Opening doors to the past: Heritage Open Days


Every year in mid-September, buildings in England and other heritage locations are opened to the public for a taste of history.

In Tunbridge Wells, ‘Heritage Open Days’ is co-ordinated by the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society, in conjunction with the National Trust and with support from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and local business printing and design firm Kall Kwik.

From September 9 to 16, nearly 40 tours, talks, events and locations are free for residents and visitors alike, whether your passion is the railways, wartime history or ancient corn-milling.

The events are an opportunity for the Civic Society itself to gain more public input into its plans for a Decimus Burton Museum and Study Centre – intended to showcase the work of one of the country’s greatest architects, whose career spanned Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods.

The Society’s exhibition is already open at Trinity Theatre, but an illustrated talk and guided walk will introduce more people to the architect’s grand vision that he designed at the top of Mount Pleasant.

The working-class past of districts like High Brooms and Southborough are also well-represented, from a primary school to the brick works.



HAWKENBURY ALLLOTMENTS © Picture: Caroline Auckland




Network Rail Training Centre, Paddock Wood

September 9, 10-4. Visit the state-of-the-art Network Rail Training Centre.

Making History at High Brooms Station

September 17, 5:30-6:30. Talk and tour given by local residents. Booking essential.




King Charles the Martyr (opening times TBC) The oldest church in Tunbridge Wells, dating from 1678.

The Old Church, Pembury

September 10, 10-4:30 (concert at 6pm), September 11, 1:30-4:40

Tunbridge Wells Friends (Quaker) Meeting House

September 10, 10-4

Capel Church Art and Craft Show at St Thomas à Becket Church

September 17-18, 10-4

Capel and Tudeley burial records on display, and staff can help visitors locate graves.

All Saints Church, Tudeley

September 9-18, 9-6 (opens to visitors at 11 on Sundays)

This medieval village church has 12 stained-glass windows designed by the great artist Marc Chagall.



THE BEACON © Picture: Caroline Auckland




Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: The Meagre Rewards of Triumph at Tunbridge Wells Bridge Club

September 10, 5-6:30pm. Illustrated talk by Adrian Phillips, author of ‘Rearming the RAF for the Second World War’.

John Brunt VC: Remembering a WW2 Hero

John Brunt VC pub, Paddock Wood

September 9-18, noon till closing time

Talk: A Home Of Smiles (The Beacon)

September 15, 2-3

Celebrating The Beacon’s history of welcoming child refugees.

The Beacon, Tunbridge Wells








Georgian and Victorian Corn Milling in the Southborough Valley

SHAAS Southborough Archaeology, Mill House Barn, Powder Mill Lane

September 11 and 18 (Sundays), 11-3. Tours every 30 minutes

Rarely open to the public, Powder Mill was the site of iron and gunpowder manufacturing and corn milling from late Georgian through Victorian times.

Union Windmill, Cranbrook

September 10-11, 2:30-5pm





St Barnabas Primary School, Quarry Road

September 17, 10-3. Tours every 30 minutes

The Skinners’ School

September 16 and 18, 9-12:30

So You Think You Know Paddock Wood? Paddock Wood Library

Hours as library opening hours. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Exhibition: planned Decimus Burton Museum and Study Centre

Exhibition open 10-3. Illustrated talk September 13, 2-4. Held at Trinity Theatre




Barsleys: From Tailor to Department Store: Four Generations

Barsleys Department Store, Paddock Wood

September 9-17 (except September 11), 10-4


September 9-18 (check website for opening times)

The former Hoppers’ Hospital cared for sick hop-pickers and now provides self-catering accommodation for tourists keen to experience a more rural lifestyle.

The Eridge Estate, Estate Office

Septembertember 9, 12, 13, 10-2

View the John Robinson papers (1770-1782) from his service as joint but Senior Secretary to the Treasury, a 16th century psalter, the 17th century Abergavenny family plate and 18th century longcase clock.

Salomons Museum, Salomons Estate, Southborough

September 18, tours 11:30, 3. Booking essential




Tunbridge Wells Bridge Club, 40 London Road

September 10, 10-4. Tour of the building and a chance to play.

Celebrate 75 Years of Subbuteo in Tunbridge Wells, The Forum

September 18, 11-3

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter